How to Choose Your Character’s Gender


How do you end up deciding this important choice? Is it from personal experience of the story you’re writing? Is it how the character presented him or herself to you? Is it how the story needs its main character to be perceived? Weak, strong, overbearing, shy… these all create ideas of gender for us, no matter which side the descriptor causes you to fall on. But how do you shake up those old pre-conceived notions without going on a crusade? (Only those who agree with you are going to read that, and will they really be reading to experience your story, or to be validated by it?)

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Fight Scenes: A Break in Action


How long does a movie’s intense action scene last? It’s not just “Bang, pow; kick, punch, roll, jump,” without pause; movies throw in little “breathers” of comedy or surprise so that the audience can take a breath or laugh to relieve the build-up of tension. Then they go back to building it up again. This way the audience’s excitement doesn’t peak and then fall, but rather is built up in smaller increments, like an up-hill hike. You might want to run the whole distance, but you’d end up burning out without breaks. However, if you time your breaks strategically, you can build up your momentum and finish with a feeling of accomplishment, rather than collapsing in relief that you’re done. So how do you do this in fiction?

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Waiter, There’s Some Reality in My Fantasy Soup


Being sick in reality stinks, as I’ve often had opportunity to learn while living overseas. And since the last few days were spent recalling just why being sick is the worst, sickness is a good place to start on a new section of writing tips: keeping the annoyances of real life in your writing (Part 1) for the sake of authenticity, plot, characterization… you get the idea.

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How to Keep Wonder-ing

Blog - Wonder

Just last week I sat down for dinner with a family who has young children. The oldest started a conversation with me over dessert, asking if I knew about the large ball that is located in the middle of the world. My first response was, “Oh, the earth’s core.”

His response was a scoff, and a condescending, “No! A ball. And if you turn it, the world will crack,” which efficiently grabbed my attention.

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Too Much Back Story?

Freedom - blog backstory

There are many ways to begin a story—action, intrigue, mystery, a clever premise—but back story is often not one them.

Opening chapters are like first dates; a feeling of wonder, anticipation, adventure, impulse, curiosity. Perhaps a bit of flirting, letting your date see only what’s appealing, then, the longer you talk, the more you open up. There’s momentum.

Back story, (information pertaining to the story’s plot, character or worlds past) can take away from that momentum. Too much at the wrong time can be like pushing pause on a movie’s climax or a girl who talks to her date about another boy. A turn off.

However! Continue reading

Appreciating Culture


Did you know that today is Chinese New Year’s?[1]

Growing up, even half-Chinese, I wasn’t aware that anyone went by a different calendar[2], or that there were holidays Americans didn’t observe, or vice versa. That’s pretty typical for children, of course. You don’t really start looking outside your own world until you’re a teenager – if even then. My first foray into a culture totally different from my own opened up my world figuratively – in drawing my imagination, and literally – I’m living overseas (and loving it).

But what helps people to greet such differences with interest rather than fear? Continue reading

Falling for Your (Side)[1] Characters

path divergingHave you ever gotten side-tracked in the midst of a climactic scene? Say your Hero is just about to charge into battle, or the Heroine is finally going to open that forbidden door, and a side character pops in to play a partial/ important/ crucial role, and then suddenly you’re off, writing their backstory, romping through their history and quirks, and discovering what their dreams in life are.

If this phenomenon sounds familiar, then welcome! Continue reading